Councilwoman Says Ads On School Buses Can Help Close Budget Gap

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia City councilwoman has a plan to boost the revenues of the city’s cash-starved school district — by plastering the district’s yellow school buses with advertising.

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is introducing a plan Thursday for what she admits would be a controversial money stream.

“If we win approval from the state, this bill will allow the city of Philadelphia to place advertisements on the back of school buses.”

Not just the backs of the 1,200 buses, but the sides as well. And the revenues would be earmarked for the schools. The councilwoman says she does not yet have an estimate on the amount of money this could generate.

The plan prohibits alcohol, tobacco or political ads on the buses, and Reynolds Brown says prohibitions on other products may be needed.

“That’s something we do need to be especially careful about as we go down this road.”

Private buses used by the students, and SEPTA buses, would not be affected.

Reynolds Brown expects the idea to face opposition, just like a related plan she floated last week. That proposal would have city bars staying open an hour later — until 3 a.m., with those tax revenues also earmarked for the district.

“We have to do some things differently, and we cannot be stuck in old ways of doing things, when the problems we’re looking at are so big.”

Both ideas require enabling legislation from Harrisburg, and both will be debated in council committee hearings.

Reynolds Brown says other states including Texas and Colorado, raise revenues with ads on school buses.

“We need to at least be open to the conversation, and invite criticism and feedback that guides us to do this in the most responsible way.”

The School Reform Commission says the district still has to close a $61 million budget gap by the end of May, and faces new deficits in the next fiscal year nearing $250 million.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz last week said he believes the current deficit is actually nearing $80 million.

More from Mike Dunn

One Comment

  1. Sir Hugo Drax says:

    Schools are the only ones hurting for funding, why stop at school buses. How about ads on Police car, Fire Trucks and Ambulances. Even better we can have every aspect of public service funded by ads. Policer Officers can were uniforms sponsored by a bail bondsmen and guns sponsored by the NRA. Ambulance Drivers can get uniforms from Phizer. Lets cut the Federal budget and put an ad for Pizza Hut on Air Force 1.

  2. Cory says:

    I saw this on CNN.. I am from Iowa and what I know about school buses versus metro buses. People tend to run in to metro buses because they have advertisement on them; well here in Iowa. People start reading them and looking at them and BAM! in the the metro bus. Versus our school buses dont have advertisements or billboards on the. And we “rarely” have accidents with school buses.

  3. Kathryn says:

    yeah, what an awful idea. it’ll generate income for the school, using something already bought and paid for by the taxpayers, without asking those same taxpayers to ante up any more tax dollars…

    p.s. if you’re too dense to figure out it’s STILL a SCHOOL BUS and you STILL have to follow SCHOOL BUS SAFETY GUIDELINES…you shouldn’t be on the road anyway. *just sayin…

  4. Kevin says:

    Can I sue them when the add distracts me while I am driving? Cases being won all over on lighted and moving signs that intentionally distract the driver. Not to far a leap to sue do reading a message going by on a bus. don’t text, but read this!

  5. Philly says:

    Here is a great idea. shrink the size of the admin department. If you don’t teach are you really needed ?

  6. Jon says:

    This is a good idea but they should be careful about what kind of ads are to be permitted.

    There should be prohibitions on ads for junk food, fast food restaurants, and certainly alcohol and tobacco products.

    Generally, i think the only ads which should be allowed are for things that would not appeal to children such as insurance, banks, cars, nonprofits, and many retailers.

  7. Ted Pikul says:

    Ok, now she’s just trolling.

  8. Francis Graff says:

    As a former Penna. Transportation official, here are my thoughts on this topic. I am riding behind a school bus loaded with children trying to read the ad. Knowing my mind and eyesight aren’t what they were. I try to draw myself closer to see the ad and fine print on the placard. You guessed it. Craaaash! Even one incident of this kind is a class action lawsuit. And who pay’s? Probably they aren’t going to get insurance and will self insure. So we do. Why take this risk I say, it’s hard enough to get thoses yellow buses around safely as is.

    1. Stan from the NE says:

      Here’s my idea on the City in general saving money. Do no tallow any city worker to take a city vehicle home. My commute to and from work about is 20 miles each way from Ne Philly to South Philly near the air port. Every day I see stinking city employees going to and from work in their city cars mostly on RT 95. It makes me sick thinking how the city is always crying poor wile it spends my tax dollars like a drunken sailor on a Friday night. How many Millions of dollars is spent letting the over paid city bureaucrats use a city vehicle for their daily commute, think about it gas and maintenance on this vehicles for the extra miles they put on these vehicles is disgusting.

      1. Philly says:

        Stan BINGO I have been saying that for years ! yet why hasn’t it been addressed ?

      2. kate says:

        i am with you every morning on 95 south from woodhaven, and i gave up counting the city cars driving to the center city exit ramp. i don’t think they or PGW cars should be parked in private homes overnight. they don’t go from work to private home and not move until the next work day. i have a court vehicle parked in somerton every day.
        the city should start in their own back yard getting rid of excess waste then move to the taxpayers– everybody knows the “emergency increase ” in real estate taxes over the last 2 years is never ever going away right?

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Philly

Getaway Guide: Best Of The Jersey Cape Clams

Watch & Listen LIVE